Organizations that digitize operations and store customer data must take steps to secure this information as they are increasingly more liable if things go wrong. Cybercriminals have long exploited login credentials to gain access to critical systems, so it’s essential for businesses to authenticate users. Authentication based on usernames and passwords alone is not sufficient; many users have trouble storing, remembering, and managing them across multiple accounts, and they tend to reuse passwords across services or create passwords that lack complexity. This is where Multi-factor authentication (MFA) has emerged as a secure and viable alternative. If you’re looking to implement MFA in the security framework of your local business, IT Support Denver will be able to help.
What is Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)?
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a security policy that requires two or more verification factors to gain access to a resource, such as an application or online account. MFA is a core component of strong identity and access management (IAM) policies. Instead of just asking for a username and password, MFA requires one or more additional verification factors. This is typically arranged by asking the user to verify their identity with something they know (such as a passcode), something they are (biometric authentication such as retinal scans) and something they own (such as an authenticated device). MFA authentication has proven to be effective at decreasing the likelihood of a successful cyber-attack.
Common Multi-Factor Authentication Methods
One-time Password (OTP)
By far the most popular MFA method is the one-time passwords, or OTPs, that are codes that are sent to users via email, SMS or a mobile application after they have successfully logged in with their user name and password combination. These codes change every few minutes or with each new request for access. They’re based on a seed value assigned to the user upon initial registration and an additional time-based factor.
Biometrics and Behavioral Analytics
Another common authentication technique uses biometric data, such as fingerprints, facial features, iris or retina scans, or voice ID. While this technique was initially seen as an extremely strong factor for authentication, excitement waned when it became clear that 3-D printing and artificial intelligence could circumvent these techniques. Some organizations may also use behavioral biometrics to confirm a user’s identity by analyzing their typing patterns or other actions.
Soft Token Software Development Kits (SDKs)
This method of verification uses digital signatures or tokens embedded in mobile apps to authenticate users and devices. Soft-token SDKs enable users to have a seamless user experience since they don’t need to switch between applications or be forced to use an external hardware device. For more information on the implementation of SDKs, please consult Managed IT Services Denver.
Hardware One-Time Password (OTP) Tokens
Hardware One-Time Password (OTP) tokens are a form of physical authentication that generates a single-use code via a cryptographic key stored inside the device and on the server. The server confirms the user’s identity by confirming that the device key and server key match during login.
Smartcards and Cryptographic Hardware Tokens
Smartcards and cryptographic hardware tokens are physical devices that are able to carry out cryptographic operations such as decryption and signing. The internal keys in these devices are physically secure inside an isolated area making them less vulnerable to attacks than software-only security. Smartcards may be contactless or require a dedicated reader, while cryptographic hardware tokens require a USB for connection.
Benefits of Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication is not a security tool in itself, but it is an important line of defense for organizations. Enforcing the use of one or several MFA factors via an OTP, biometric indicator or physical hardware key makes it far more difficult for hackers and other cybercriminals to gain access to the system under the guise of a legitimate user. This not only means that cybercriminals must identify an alternative avenue for access, but that traditional security measures are far more likely to be able to detect and stop such activity.
Adaptable to the Remote Work Environment
As organizations move away from centralized locations and more toward flexible work arrangements, they are increasingly exposed to cyberattacks and breaches. These threats occur as workers access sensitive company applications, documents and data through personal networks and devices. To make matters worse, workers experience login fatigue when they are required to sign in to multiple accounts in a single work session. The implementation of MFA in an organization’s security framework makes it simple and seamless for workers to login to work sessions. The moment an employee gets validated in SSO or initial authentication process, the system can automatically sign them in and grant access to all relevant applications or documents without further authentication.
Organizations that operate in high-risk industries such as healthcare, education, finance, military etc. must secure their networks against cyber-attacks. For example, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is a regulatory standard for organizations that operate in the credit card sector. It requires multifactor authentication to be implemented to prevent unauthorized users from accessing systems. Even when application updates lead to system instability, multifactor authentication ensures that systems remain impenetrable with up to 99% certainty. For more help and guidance in implementing MFAs in your regular workloads, please refer to IT Consulting Denver.
Post courtesy: Greystone Technology